ADDRESSING TEENAGE PREGNANCIES: GAUTENG AUTHORITIES HOST DIALOGUE

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By Phetoho Maja 

  • Over 150,000 children fell pregnant in the 2022/2023 financial year, highlighting a concerning rise in teenage pregnancies across South Africa.
  • Schools in Gauteng, particularly in the Ekurhuleni Region, witnessed a higher incidence of learner pregnancies among the age group of 12 to 19 years.
  • The Gauteng Department of Social Development, in collaboration with the Health and Education departments, convened a dialogue aimed at pregnant learners, teen parents, and their families to tackle the escalating issue of teenage pregnancies, focusing on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

At least 150,000 children fell pregnant in the 2022/2023 financial year. This is according to recent statistics by the Department of Health, which revealed a significant increase in teenage pregnancies in South Africa. 

The study further reveals that schools across Gauteng had a higher learner pregnancy rate, with Ekurhuleni Region marked as a hotspot with the highest number of deliveries for the age group of 12 to 19 years.

On 2 March 2024, the Gauteng Department of Social Development, in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Health and Wellness and Gauteng Department of Education, hosted a dialogue for over one hundred (100) pregnant learners, teenage mothers and fathers, together with their parents, guardians and caregivers to address the alarming increase of teenage pregnancies in Gauteng, particularly in the area of Tembisa. 

Speaking at the event, Child Protection Services and Services Director, Yvonne Deonarain, on the importance of hosting an open dialogue for learners and parents to curb and mitigate teenage pregnancies. 

“Our work as the Gauteng Department of Social Development in rendering services to children is guided by the Children’s Act 38 of 2005. The Act is very descriptive on how we should manage children that are vulnerable, abused, neglected, and exploited,” she said.

“Today we are here to talk to learners and their parents about teenage pregnancy. We know there has been a significant spike in the number of teen pregnancies in the province. The Department of Social Development, Health, Education, SAPS, and non-profit organisations in the children’s sector are key stakeholders in responding to this challenge.”

“This dialogue seeks to find solutions from the voice of teenagers. In addition, we have parents who are struggling to cope with their children being pregnant. Today is the start of a dialogue, we want to be more responsive through the programmes that we roll out to teenagers that are pregnant, to support educators and parents in responding to this challenge that we are facing in communities,” said Deonarain.

She added, “Beyond that, we are trying to curb the state of child abuse in our communities and help those who are pregnant to navigate through the challenges of being a parent at a young age.” 

The objective of this dialogue was to afford pregnant learners, teen parents and their parents a safe space to engage and voice their experiences and challenges around sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as the psychosocial challenges they may face.

These dialogues will culminate in a collaborative community-based plan that will include a teenage pregnancy prevention programme, care, and support services for teen parents to realise their right to education and ensure retention of teen mothers in schools.

 

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